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ASHLAND REPORTS SECOND-QUARTER LOSS, 29 PERCENT INCREASE FOR FISCAL '92 FIRST HALF

 ASHLAND REPORTS SECOND-QUARTER LOSS,
 29 PERCENT INCREASE FOR FISCAL '92 FIRST HALF
 ASHLAND, Ky., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Ashland Oil, Inc. (NYSE: ASH) said today it had a net loss of $9 million, or 16 cents a share, for the quarter ended March 31, 1992, the second quarter of its current fiscal year.
 In the quarter last year, Ashland had net income of $27 million, or 48 cents a share.
 Sales and operating revenues for the quarter just ended were $2.2 billion, compared to $2.1 billion a year ago.
 For the six months ended March 31, 1992, Ashland had net income of $20 million, or 33 cents a share. This was an increase of 29 percent compared to net income of $16 million or 28 cents a share in last year's first half. Sales and operating revenues were $4.8 billion in the first half of fiscal 1992 and $4.7 billion in the period a year ago.
 Ashland Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John R. Hall attributed the second-quarter loss primarily to weak refinery margins which led to an $18 million operating loss from Ashland Petroleum Company, Ashland's refining, transportation and wholesale marketing division.
 "While we were disappointed by Ashland Petroleum's operating loss and our overall results, we were pleased by excellent performances from Valvoline and Ashland Chemical," Hall said.
 At $12 million, Valvoline's operating income was more than double that of a year ago and reflected stronger branded motor oil volumes, some margin improvement and improvements from virtually every Valvoline operation.
 Ashland Chemical continued to buck economic trends, recording operating income of $25 million, a 6 percent improvement from last year's strong quarter. Ashland's specialty chemical group reported record second-quarter results, and its distribution businesses also improved their performance.
 SuperAmerica had a difficult quarter, although operating income of $3 million exceeded last year's quarter which was hurt by the impact of the Gulf War. Retail gasoline margins were weak throughout the 1992 quarter, reflecting a sluggish economy, soft demand and intense competitive pressures.
 Ashland's APAC construction operations reported break-even results for the quarter, reflecting the company's policy of deferring winter costs and charging them to operations over the second half of the year. Hall noted that APAC is positioned for a strong profit contribution in the second half, due to a backlog of $581 million, improved highway funding in most operating areas and significantly lower deferred winter costs.
 Operating income from Ashland Exploration was $8 million, as a 28 percent increase in domestic natural gas production substantially offset weak natural gas prices.
 Equity income from coal operations was $12 million, reflecting higher equity income from Ashland's 50 percent interest in Arch Mineral Corporation. Arch's increase was due primarily to a gain from an insurance settlement relating to a fire last fall at an Illinois mine. Ashland's portion of the gain increased equity income by $8 million. Ashland Coal continued to perform well and reported net income of $7.3 million, or 41 cents a share, on a fully diluted basis, for the March quarter. Ashland Oil's equity income from Ashland Coal was $3 million. Ashland owns 50 percent of Arch Mineral and about 41 percent of Ashland Coal.
 Hall noted three recently completed, important strategic transactions. "Ashland Chemical completed the $86 million acquisition of Unocal's chemical distribution business. Ashland Exploration obtained an important new concession in Nigeria, and our affiliate Ashland Coal completed the $253 million acquisition of Dal-Tex Coal Corporation," he said.
 "In summary, our results for the quarter were disappointing," Hall said. "The petroleum refining industry's break-even point on transportation-fuel margins has increased because of continued growth in environmental compliance costs and declining residual fuel oil and asphalt prices. While we are optimistic that margins on transportation fuels will strengthen as we enter the driving season, substantial improvement will be needed in order for Ashland Petroleum to equal last year's results," he added.
 "Our operations are efficient and are poised to capitalize on stronger economic conditions. In the interim, we will continue to emphasize cost control in all our operations as we strive to improve our profit performance," Hall concluded.
 Ashland Oil, Inc., is a diversified energy corporation engaged in petroleum refining, transportation and marketing; retail gasoline marketing; motor oil marketing; chemicals; coal; highway construction; and oil and gas exploration and production.
 ASHLAND OIL, INC.
 (In thousands except per share data -- unaudited)
 Period Ended Three Months Six Months
 March 31 1992 1991 1992 1991
 REVENUES
 Sales & Operating
 revenues (including
 excise taxes) $2,242,266 $2,143,015 $4,752,052 $4,731,377
 Sales & Operating
 revenues (excluding
 excise taxes) 2,081,225 1,987,223 4,424,053 4,441,542
 Total revenues
 (including excise
 taxes) 2,257,369 2,156,956 4,785,659 4,754,041
 RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 Operating income
 (loss) $ 3,771 $63,963 $63,054 $72,720
 Interest expense
 - net (31,461) (31,661) (61,454) (63,100)
 Equity income 14,721 4,214 25,111 12,270
 Income taxes 3,870 (9,950) (6,330) (6,090)
 Net income (loss) $(9,099) $26,566 $20,381 $15,800
 EARNINGS (LOSS) PER SHARE
 Primary $(.16) $0.48 $0.33 $0.28
 Assuming full
 dilution $(.16) $0.48 $0.32 $0.28
 AVG COMMON SHARES
 & EQUIVALENTS
 OUTSTANDING 58,230 55,550 58,307 55,569
 SALES & OPERATING
 REVENUES
 Ashland
 Petroleum $1,037,221 $1,028,546 $2,261,773 $2,302,224
 SuperAmerica Group 475,952 498,703 999,227 1,092,441
 Valvoline 219,690 183,489 416,132 351,234
 Chemical 599,729 555,725 1,156,626 1,132,532
 Construction 154,036 160,896 434,205 456,829
 Exploration 62,031 68,773 133,643 185,137
 Intersegment sales (306,393) (353,117) (649,554) (789,020)
 $2,242,266 $2,143,015 $4,752,052 $4,731,377
 OPERATING INCOME (LOSS)
 Ashland Petroleum $(18,051) $45,013 $(22,125) $1,966
 SuperAmerica Group 3,167 1,936 14,847 19,031
 Valvoline 11,583 4,991 24,721 6,169
 Chemical 24,835 23,415 53,641 44,735
 Construction - - 16,192 18,490
 Exploration 8,270 10,986 22,989 23,610
 General corporate
 expenses (26,033) (22,378) (47,211) (41,281)
 $3,771 $63,963 $63,054 $72,720
 EQUITY INCOME
 Arch Mineral Corp. $ 8,948 $ 448 $10,870(A) $5,513
 Ashland Coal, Inc. 3,332 3,393 8,986 5,651
 Other 2,441 373 5,255 1,106
 $14,721 $4,214 $25,111 $12,270
 (A) Includes a gain of $7,628,000 (Ashland's 50 percent share) from insurance proceeds resulting from a fire at an Illinois mine.
 -0- 4/23/92
 /CONTACT: Bill Hartl, investor relations, in New York, 212-421-1250, or Roger Schrum, media relations, 606-329-4061, both of Ashland Oil/
 (ASH) CO: Ashland Oil, Inc. ST: Kentucky IN: OIL CHM SU: ERN


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